My bike computer passed 10,000 miles somewhere toward the start of the year. That's 10,000 miles since I got the first of those computers, around Thanksgiving 2008. So, that's 6 years and a bit more. Still, a fair amount of riding.
I continue to try and ride 30-50 miles a week. I've been recording it in my Health app on my iPhone over the last couple of months, and it shows an average of 8.18 miles a day since November and 9.69 in the last 30 days, which is past the top of that range. At this point, I'd like to do a bit more, but that's in large part because I seem to have settled in at a weight a bit higher than I'd like. (My biking tends to have three purposes to it: raw enjoyment, mental relaxation, and physical exercise.)
In 2014, a lot of my riding was in the lowlands, with points north such as Hilltop Mall, Point Richmond, and Point Pinole being particularly popular. That seems to have somewhat impacted my ability to ride in the hills. Not that I can't, but it's harder than it was a year ago. So, it may be time for some hill riding again.
On Saturday I did a 26 mile ride out to Point Richmond, which has been pretty typical for a ride on a "free" (non-gaming) Saturday. It was absolutely glorious. Nicely warm when I was heading out, which is the best weather we've seen in a couple of months. (Sadly, that's related to our total lack of rain in January, but so it goes.) It was getting chilly out at Point Richmond by 3 or so, but still, very pleasant.
Sadly, riding through Richmond always reminds me how messed up their trails remain. I mean, it's great to have the Richmond Greenway mostly complete, which wasn't the case when I started riding again in 2008. But it's still got two big gaps in it. There's still no connection between the Richmond and Ohlone Greenways. It sounds like the sky bridge for bikes that was originally planned is straight out, but even the revamped proposal from 2010
doesn't seem to have gone anyway.
That just means you have to make a nasty crossing of San Pablo Avenue and a hike by all the day workers at the Home Depot, who crowd the sidewalks and span the spectrum from friendly to blankly indifferent. Worse is the fact that there's still a big gap in the middle of the Richmond Greenway, which requires you going several blocks out of your way across a few nasty surface streets. This ranks as one of the five biggest biking problems in the Bay Area
, alongside big ticket numbers like the Bay and Richmond Bridges. Way back in 2003, this was also planned as a bridge crossing, but 12 years later ... crickets.
Much of the problem seems to be a lack of enthusiasm about Greenways in Richmond. I see it strongly when I ride both the Ohlone and Richmond Greenways like I did on Saturday. The Ohlone Greenway is clean and well-used, with the trails being constantly crowded with bicyclists, walkers, joggers, baby strollers, wheelchair pushers, and everyone else you could imagined. In contrast, the Richmond Greenway is relatively unused. I see maybe 10% as many people, per capita. And the trail is poorly unkept. On previous trips I've seen weeks or months of dog poo soiling the trail. This time I saw three or four trash bags of garbage dumped along the trail (some of the spilling all over). It's ... depressing. There's some community support for the western half of the trail, which has more space around it (making it more pleasant and more like the well-use Ohlone Greenway). There's even a new playground that just went in, but it was empty, like everything else.
I think part of the problem is Richmond's half-assed approach to this type of public facility. There's a Wildcat Creek Trail further north in Richmond (with part of it in other districts, possibly San Pablo and/or unincorporated west Richmond), and it should
be a major thoroughfare. Unfortunately, the cities involved just put in some
of the trail some years ago and never finished. In the east the trail deadends in a dirt field next to flood channels and in the west it's supposed
to connect to the Wildcat Marsh and the various Bay Trails that run there, but instead it runs up to an underpass that has been closed for at least the last several years due to flooding. (It's all a muddy, algae mess.) Worse, whoever runs the trail has never had the good sense to at least open the western trail up to the road that's right there, so the result is another deadend (unless you hop over the short fence there, which I have at least twice ... after tossing my bike over). Oh, and there's a big gap between
the western and eastern half of the trails.
Today the Wildcat Creek Trail is pretty much abandoned. Part of it is going back to nature as weeds grow through the cracked pavement. No one uses it, which is no surprise because it doesn't go anywhere. I can see the Richmond Greenway going the same way if the city doesn't finish the connections. And if they don't deal with its other problems, such as the homeless encampments that are on Baxter Creek, at the east end of the trail, and which have resulted in an increasing number of not-hostile-but-not-friendly people blocking much of the east end of the trail the last several times I've been there.
Thankfully, in lands south of Richmond, biking is getting more positive attention. Oakland is really the star (though I'd say the same of San Francisco if I was over there more).
This year, I'm looking forward to:Chabot Avenue
being repaved, making it easier to get up to Lake Temescal. I believe this actually happened two weeks ago, only about a month late. I might check it out tomorrow night.Ashby Avenue
getting a HAWK Light to make it easier to cross through some of our nearby neighborhoods. (Alcatraz really needs the same to make the whole area very navigable.) This was due to be done last fall. I actually asked the Berkeley person responsible for it for a status, but he apparently doesn't respond to plebeian citizens. However he's since updated the nine-month out-of-date web site, which I'd also told him was out of date. It now says that they expect to get state approval in spring 2015. Tunnel Road
getting better bike paths, something else that was scheduled for fall 2014, and which has been knocked back to later than spring 2015. This'll be another improvement for getting up into the Oakland Hills.Upper Broadway
getting a road diet and a two-way bike path, as yet another Oakland Hills improvement. This is scheduled to be done by fall 2015, which probably means 2016.Telegraph Avenue
getting protected and/or set-off bike lanes all the way from 19th to 40th. This still leaves nasty riding through the Temescal area, but there will then be 20 blocks of much more pleasant riding. This is supposed to start happening in March. It's near enough that every time I ride to Endgame now, I think, "That's one less time I'll have to ride these unprotected roads."
The Bay Bridge
, which has been called the world's longest bike pier, finally extending its bike/pedestrian path to Yerba Buena Island (and Treasure Island). I mean, there's nothing to do
out there, but I hope it'll be a pleasant place to sit out and write. I've done that a few times on the Bridge itself, but it's not as nice as the parks I prefer to visit. Maybe the islands will be. The last two promises I've seen for this were summer 2015 and Labor Day 2015, but I have zero faith in them, especially since CalTrans already failed with their original promise of end-of-the-year 2014.
Now whether we'll ever be able to bike the whole bridge is another question, and another point where I have little faith, but I'd really like
to see either the Bay Bridge or the Richmond Bridge open up in my biking lifetime, so I could get across the Bay under my own power if I wanted.Generally, Oakland's been busy; sadly, I can't say the same for Berkeley, which is dragging its feet even on the stuff already funded by the fourth bore settlement, which is all the Ashby/Tunnel related stuff. I suspect the town isn't big enough for the bike lobbying to really focus on, but it'd be nice if our "progressive" city did this sort of thing on their own.
Ah well, good stuff coming this year anyway.